Background Mahila Swasthya Adhikar Manch (Women‘s Health Rights Forum) or MSAM is a forum of poor rural women working on their health rights in the state of UP in India. The Forum is facilitated by a group of NGOs working at the district and state level. Over the last six years, MSAM leaders and members have increased their understanding of entitlements in health, nutrition and food security, livelihoods, political participation, social security and violence against women. Today MSAM has a membership of around 11000 women. There are many stories depicting the struggles of women from MSAM, reclaiming their rights.The stories of two MSAM leaders Dangri Devi and Jhamman are presented here:
Dangri Devi is from Majgai village of Naugarh Block in Chandauli district in eastern Uttar Pradesh. In March 2007, when Dangri Devi went to the Naugarh hospital she was surprised to see around 80 women already present in the hospital. On enquiry she found out that these women had not received cheques of Rupees 1400/- from Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), which is a cash incentive given for institutional deliveries. When Dangri Devi and the women decided to go and meet the local politician, he was unavailable. Following this, the group decided to go and meet the Head Clerk as he was the one who will be disbursing the cheques. When all the women went to the Head Clerk‘s office, he was scared and immediately informed the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The CMO ordered that all the women should be given their cheques immediately. That day 80 women received their cheques. Since then women receive their cheques within a week of their deliveries without any problems.
Jhamman Devi, is from Attri village of Rajgarh block in Mirzapur district also in eastern Uttar Pradesh. She is single, illiterate and a daily wage worker. When Jhamman received the information and understood that health is a right and the government is responsible for providing facilities to women, she along with other women from her village, fought with the Local Self Government (Panchayat) and the Block Development Officer (BDO) for better health facilities and Anganwadi (pre-school centre for mother and child care). She even placed their demand at the district level. Today their struggle has led to better health facilities for their village and the villagers have a lot of respect for Jhamman and other members of her group. Recently, Jhamman also gave an interview to BBC radio.
Over the last six years, MSAM leaders and members have increased their understanding of entitlements in health, nutrition and food security, livelihoods, political participation, social security and violence against women.
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